The relatively low cost of Internet production and delivery may have its greatest impact on broadening the sources of media content. Almost anybody can afford to create messages for Internet delivery and, theoretically, reach everyone on the planet who has a reception device. In contrast to a generation ago, the price of entry into the mass media no longer requires millions of dollars for production facilities and millions more for startup costs, including costs for personnel.
Whether a blogger or online business owner, often the cost of disseminating mass information amounts to nothing more than an investment in a quality laptop and a modest amount of money in the investment of a website. Newer web- hosting companies such as Wix and Weebly are changing the website
development landscape by offering free platforms that can be developed with the easy-to-use and intuitive “drag and drop” website builders.
Media Counterpoints: “Technologizing” The Written Word Great drama with high stakes is playing out in mass media. Will any of the established media industries, some with technology going back 550 years to Gutenberg, survive into this new age of Internet delivery? The question applies not only to ink-on-paper media but also to the television industry and all the post-Gutenberg technologies that staked their claim on the media landscape in the 20th century.
When these newcomers arrived, each seemed a serious challenger to ink-on-paper industries. But print media held their own. Entering the 21st century, seven identifiable industries—books, newspapers, magazines, audio recording, movies, radio, and television—had pretty much settled into a comfy coexistence. With distinct products, each industry was economically sustainable, indeed highly profitable.
With Marc Andreessen’s Netscape browser in the mid-1990s, the Internet burst into the media mix. History would suggest that this new kid on the block would find a niche amid existing media industries, as had television and all the other 20th century newcomers.
Everything changed with the Internet. Word-centric, ink-on-paper media lost their monopoly on the written word. As literary and cultural historian Walter Ong put it, the printed word suddenly was “technologized in a new way.” With the Internet, people are reading onscreen as easily as on paper if not more easily.
The Internet also lends itself to the delivery of sound, visuals, and video, rendering CDs and physical radios almost obsolete in an era of music streaming via satellite radio iTunes Radio and Pandora.
Today, the seven traditional media industries have less need for traditional production mechanisms like printing presses and broadcast transmitters, as they transition to an Internet delivery system in the ongoing process of media convergence. The problem of media convergence though is two-fold for traditional media industries:
Old distinctions that identified media platforms fade online. For instance, magazines do not compete only with other magazines anymore, but with informational websites as well. Many books are now written in magazine format, and videos are no longer a stand-alone medium, as they are often embedded into an array of other media, such as online magazines, books, websites, and more recently, social media sites.
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